SC Technical Expert Committee recommends ‘GM Field Trials to wait till the regulatory system is improved’

The Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court made the following recommendations.

  1. On

    1. Overall recommendation for open field trials: Based on and in particular, “the examination/study of the safety dossiers, it is apparent that there are major gaps in the regulatory system. These need to be addressed before issues related to tests can be meaningfully considered. Till  such time it would not be advisable to conduct more field trials”
    2. Bt food crops: The “reiterates its recommendation made in the Interim Report that there should be a moratorium on field trials for Bt in food   crops   (those   that   are   directly   used   for   food)   intended   for commercialization (not research) until there is more definitive information from sufficient number of studies as to the long term safety of Bt in food crops”.
    3. Herbicide Tolerant crops: The TEC finds them completely unsuitable in the Indian context and recommends that field trials and release of HT crops ‘   not be allowed in India.”
    4. Crops in their Centre of Origin or Diversity: The TEC therefore recommends that release of for which India is a centre of origin or diversity should not be allowed”
    1. 1.      Other recommendations and TOR a &b: Nature and sequencing of risk assessment and point of release for Open Field Trials  (pg 79-83):
    • to introduce a consultation step to start with, ideally prior to the GM product intended for field trials having been developed” , encompassing  the scope of issues that need to be addressed, relating to health and environmental safety — on a  “case-wise basis keeping in mind the overall phases of risk assessment: hazard identification; hazard characterization; exposure assessment; risk characterization; and mitigation options.   Need, socioeconomic factors, and sustainability should also be considered and thoroughly discussed at this stage with involvement of all the stakeholders”.
    • “There is a need to include chronic and trans-generational toxicity testing in feeding studies of rodents based on the fact that food is consumed over the entire lifetime and that nutritional stress can also lead to adverse or unintended effects over long-term exposure. The sensitive stages of reproduction also need to be included.
    • The regulatory process should be open to new scientific information that may have a bearing on the risk assessment, if necessary even after deregulation of an event.
    • The applicant is responsible for providing to the regulator, all information that has a bearing on the risk assessment, regardless of whether it was obtained for the purpose of the risk assessment.
    • Stakeholder participation, need, socioeconomic considerations, societal impact, and sustainability should be some of the dimensions to be incorporated in the risk assessment and this should be done at an early stage in the risk assessment process”.
    • The TEC noted that Post Release Monitoring (PRM) is also an important aspect of environmental safety as well as health safety (if the plant is consumed as food) and this has not received adequate attention in the regulatory system (1R: p3, 9) or in practice.

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